Urban foragers are people who eat what grows naturally from a very unnatural place— a city. In this all-vegetarian Sky Full of Bacon podcast, urban foragers show us how they find food all around them, and we nibble our way through a remarkable wilderness literally in the shadow of Chicago’s skyscrapers.
Feeling a little cabin feverish this winter? This Sky Full of Bacon podcast (shot in September and October) will take you back to a sunnier, somewhat greener time as we explore the city looking for growing things to eat— from fruits to herbs to medicines. First, chef-blogger Art Jackson shows us what he forages for his own use around his home in Pilsen. Then Art and I are led on a fascinating tour of a stretch of mostly undeveloped (for now) land on the near South side, which turns out to be an amazingly biodiverse landscape as it’s revealed to us by Nance Klehm, artist and urban foraging expert. Along the way, we discuss many of the issues around foraging and the use of land and food in the city.
If you’d like to see more— and Nance showed us much more than I could include in this podcast— her foraging tours and classes in everything from canning to cheesemaking will start up again in March; watch spontaneousvegetation.net closer to that time for more details. As urban foraging became a hot topic last year, Nance started turning up more and more in the media; there’s more in this piece from NPR’s Weekend America, this audio podcast from Chicago’s Little Green People Show, and this audio podcast from a magazine called Arthur.
Art Jackson, chef at Chicago’s Bijan’s Bistro, and his wife Chel blog about food at thepleasanthouse.wordpress.com; here’s a recipe they posted that uses one of the most easily foraged fruits in the Chicago area, mulberry muffins. (We found mulberries but they wound up on the cutting room floor, digitally speaking.) It’s worth noting that I met Art because he commented on my very first podcast, so if you have an idea about something that would be interesting to do a podcast about, let me know and it could happen!
Here’s a Time Out article that came out last fall on another group of Chicago foragers. And finally, remember that the very first Sky Full of Bacon was about local food and growing your own, so if you never saw it, check it out.
Nance’s recipe for the dandelion-burdock tea that she brought along for our forage:
this rooty brew is highly benefical for the liver, “the great absorber” of stress, alcohol and other unhealthy things. we need to support it in its work and this is a delicious way to do it!
dig dandelion and burdock roots in early spring or late fall. if spring, wash and use greens for salads, soups or stirfries, if fall, compost the tops or use them to mulch a perennial in your yard. wash roots and cut into small pieces. spread on a cookie sheet and roast for two hours in a 175 degree oven – occasionally stirring to roast evenly. you will need a lot of them, and there are a lot of them out there, so digdigdig.
to brew: put one 1/4 cup of roasted root in a one quart jar and pour boiling water over the top, cap and wait 4 hours or overnight. roots take a long time to extract their beneficial minerals. in contrast, a shorter brew is only colored water and carries none of the rich flavor or medicinal benefits. you can drink this at room temperature, iced or gently reheat it if you prefer it warm.
nance klehm will post her ‘living kitchen’ classes and monthly ‘urbanforage’ walks for 2009 on spontaneousvegetation.net in late march.
About Sky Full of Bacon
Sky Full of Bacon #6: There Will Be Pork (pt. 2)
Sky Full of Bacon #5: There Will Be Pork (pt. 1)
Sky Full of Bacon #4: A Head’s Tale
Sky Full of Bacon #3: The Last Brisket Show
Sky Full of Bacon #2: Duck School
Sky Full of Bacon #1: How Local Can You Go?
Please feel free to comment here or to email me here.